Alarm System DIY - Canadian TV, Computing and Home Theatre Forums
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post #1 of 31 (permalink) Old 2020-02-05, 08:23 PM Thread Starter
 
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Location: Fredericton (NB)
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Alarm System DIY

Hi folks,

I want to install an alarm system in my two storey home and I want to do it myself.

What I have in mind is the classic system with no frills: control panel, keypad, sensors where they are needed and a siren.

I do not need any automation or connection to a third party company. All I want, eventually, is to be notified on my mobile.

DSC could be my main source, however they do no appear to sell directly, so my question to you:
  1. Would you be able to recommend any sites/blogs where people tell about their experience in self-installing their alarm system? I cannot find much on the net.
  2. Any site where you can learn more about the various components, their compatibility with each other. For instance, not all the keypads work with any control panel.
  3. Any sites where to buy this stuff, other than Amazon?

Any help is appreciated

Thank you,
Alex
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post #2 of 31 (permalink) Old 2020-02-06, 01:08 AM
 
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Take a look at Aartech Canada.
There was / is a member on this forum from Aartech.
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post #3 of 31 (permalink) Old 2020-02-06, 09:42 PM Thread Starter
 
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Thank you very much, I will take a look at their site.

In the meantime, if anybody has got additional information regarding my questions above, please let me know.

Thank you!
Alex
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post #4 of 31 (permalink) Old 2020-02-07, 08:42 AM
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Yeah, i think a lot of the issue is that MOST places that sell now, dont want to sell stand alone, and want to sell a monitored service

While i cant help with where to buy the stuff, i know that the DSC stuff works good as a stand alone.
My boss is running a DSC at home himself. He has the base panel, where it has wired sensors attached, but also upgraded it to add the module where wireless sensors could be added.
He also added in the card to be able to access & get notifications over the internet.

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post #5 of 31 (permalink) Old 2020-02-07, 09:52 PM Thread Starter
 
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I sensed that DSC is one of the best around...

Wireless is certainly easier when it comes to retrofit an alarm system, however the first question I have is the following:

If you use wireless, it is sufficient to cut off your fiber line where it gets into your home, so... no internet, no party

How do the security companies bypass this problem?

If there is a power outage, I can use a UPS power supply, but if you have no internet, you need a back-up.

You could use a data plan, but what if you do not have one?

I am sure this is a topic that has been debated already, any thoughts?

Thanks!
Alex
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post #6 of 31 (permalink) Old 2020-02-07, 10:35 PM
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Quote:
How do the security companies bypass this problem?
Wireless is one way. There really isn't a foolproof solution. Wifi and cellular wireless can be blocked just as cables can be cut. The problem is that residential connections are not designed to be secure. They are designed to be cheap and easy to install and repair. Redundant connections can help. The connection can be monitored so that signal loss will raise an alarm but then someone needs to check it out on location.
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post #7 of 31 (permalink) Old 2020-02-08, 10:14 AM
 
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Ready for an information dump? Here goes...

If you're planning to buy a professional brand like DSC, you should buy it from a company that provides warranty & technical support as pro security manufacturers won't support or help the end user. So a site like Amazon or any big box or drop ship seller, would be a poor choice since you wouldn't receive any technical support and if something fails you'll throw it in the garbage. I shop on Amazon all the time but Amazon is better suited for brands that are meant to be dead simple for DIY install and those that offer direct end user support & warranty.

For what it's worth, Aartech has been around since 2002, has the broadest range of security & automation products in Canada and is likely the only company in Canada willing to offer after sale support & warranty support for what they sell.

Before you go too far down the DSC rabbit hole, do a quick self-check and make sure you're willing to take the time to learn how to run the wires, connect the system, program it & troubleshoot it as there's a steep learning curve to pro systems like DSC. They're an excellent product but they're not designed to be easy to set up for a newbie so plan to invest time and you'll likely bang your head a few times during the process. Once they're up and running they are solid, stable, and relied on by pros.

Aartech offers a pre-programming service for DSC to help take some of the pain away from the install but it's still very hands on once the board, keypad, sensors, etc arrive on your doorstep.

If you can run wires for sensors you won't have to worry about batteries. Wired sensors are cheap but you'll pay instead for your time/labour.

Wireless sensors are more expensive and have batteries but they install in minutes.

If you plan to self monitor DSC look at Powerseries kits based on PC1616, PC1832 boards and add an EVL4 internet board. It uses a free cloud service to provide email or text alerts.

Yes, if the internet goes down you won't get messages. There is a "heartbeat" sent to the Eyezon (EVL4) cloud that can send a notice if the system doesn't report in for a while.

In a power failure, the alarm will have a battery backup, and if you have your modem/router & network gear on a UPS you'll have a window while things will still work. Eventually batteries will fail obviously.

If you want a backup plan in case the internet goes down - that's handled using cellular and at that point I'd suggest a monitoring company that can provide a cell backup. You'll pay a fee for their service & cell connection. Normally the cell backup has a similar battery life to the system so you'd have several hours (at least) of protection while power's out.

Food for thought - if you are concerned about wireless jamming, lines being cut, etc - and you feel you have a valid reason to be concerned, then you should pay for pro monitoring - and maybe pro install - to make sure you're well protected. Are you really a target for that sort of sophistication? Or is a bad guy more likely to smash a window, run in, grab some stuff and run away?

More food for thought. If you plan to install smoke or CO detectors - I personally suggest those must be professionally monitored. The monitoring company will call the fire dept without your intervention. Self monitoring means relying on a text message (ever miss one of those?). What if you're vacationing in Jamaica - who's reacting to a text or email for you?

If you choose to go pro - Aartech can either help with product & some support for DIY - or may be able to refer you to a trusted installer in your area that works with them.

You can also take a look at Ring - available at Aartech or all the big box stores. The Ring alarm is all wireless & uses Zwave for their sensors. They offer a free plan and you can pay them extra for monitoring & cell backup. It's probably one of the cheapest for this service. I would say it's more suited to a smaller home or condo but they do have repeaters available. The service plan also covers video doorbell cloud recording & camera cloud recording if you wanted to add cameras or a video doorbell- all in the same app.

Some other options - a VeraSecure hub with sensors & keypad & email alerts. Vera hubs support thousands of Zwave devices. VeraPlus adds Zigbee support. VeraSecure adds security functions and support for some 2Gig security sensors as well. They offer a cell backup service in USA but *not* Canada and I don't
know if they will in future so they are tied to Internet for now and they are NOT able to be pro monitored.

Likewise there is a neat little honeywell home system that looks like a tube - sits on the counter and has built in sensors and cameras. It can be used for free for DIY - but can't be monitored by a pro.

Additionally I highly recommend cameras and/or video doorbells. like a security system, stickers on the door, signs on the lawn - they act as a deterrent. Cameras can also provide some evidence in case of vandalism or a break-in. But get good cameras, make sure they're working properly and recording. Don't go cheap if you really want to have useful video.

Security is also about other things... like making sure your property is well lit and looks like less of a target than your neighbour :-) Check windows and doors. Did you reinforce your doors? A standard door has a fragile frame and it's really easy to kick it in. Or maybe the lock will be "bumped". Windows are fast and easy to break. Are any 2nd floor windows easy to get to? If put sensors on those windows too and/or a motion sensor in the master bedroom and/or hallway upstairs.

I'm not sure if direct links are frowned upon here so I won't post them unless asked but the Aartech site is full of security & camera products from diy & pro brands.

I hope this helps!
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post #8 of 31 (permalink) Old 2020-02-08, 02:52 PM Thread Starter
 
Join Date: May 2010
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Thank you for the information.

I am more an old school guy, the information you have provided is unfortunately what I was expecting, wireless does not offer the level of security I want, even if in my area you can expect a low level of sophistication from whoever might attempt to break-in, this is not a valid reason to build a weak system from the start.

Unfortunately, as ExDilbert mentioned in his post, residential connections are not designed to be secure and this is a major problem.
On the other hand, retrofitting door sensor can be a pain, however I feel a wired system responds better to the level of security I am after.

I am against any type of third party monitoring, it is a waste of money.
When a burglar tries to break-in and the alarm goes off, they all run away, 100% guaranteed, I do not need anybody to call the police, I just need the system to call my phone and/or the neighbors one.

Doors and windows reinforced? Waste of money, if they decide to get in, either using a crowbar or a torch, they get in.
An alarm system has to prevent the burglar to enter your home, if the system is set-up properly, an abandoned crowbar it is what you will find when you discover somebody tried to break-in, nothing else.

I do not expect to have issues with the installation or the programming of a pro-system, however I will certainly get in touch with Aartech if I am convinced that the organization you represent is the one I will decide to use as a supplier.

Thank you,
Alex

Last edited by Metallo; 2020-02-08 at 03:19 PM.
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post #9 of 31 (permalink) Old 2020-02-08, 04:26 PM
 
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In terms of an alarm, if you're just looking for noise to scare someone away, most of the alarms will do that for you of course. But if the crook is sophisticated enough to cut a phone/internet line or jam cellular are they really going to run away when they hear a siren? I guess they could also wear a mask and dress so they can't be recognized so video won't work. I'm not sure if you want your neighbour, family or your self confronting such a person. I don't honestly know what sort of system is going to stop someone like that in their tracks.

My point earlier was just to let people consider that security isn't one thing, it's a mindset, and overall view of the home and its weak points. Nothing is perfect and everything can be bypassed. Generally speaking - the idea is to make your place less attractive, then back that with physical security, good lighting, nosy neighbours and security/cameras. Kind of like the joke that says if you're being chased by a bear you don't have to be the fastest runner. You just don't want to be the slowest.

Maybe a strong door & door hardware with a noisy siren will be enough to scare away the average vandal or some percentage of crooks.

I know you weren't interested, but security systems can also be used to know when someone gets home (or doesn't) or to provide alerts like water leaks, low temp (freezing), etc.

That said, the options for having the system reach you would be phone, internet or cellular. Actually phone & internet is pretty stable these days but it's true that the line for these, in most residential homes, comes up out of the ground somewhere before it enters the home.

The pro systems like DSC don't normally "phone" since they were designed to be monitored. The exception here might be something like an Elk M1 Gold that has built in phone dialer with voice announcements and options for Internet Email. Or an add-on voice dialer where you can record a message.

To get a backup in case of non working phone or internet you can use cellular which means you need a cellular device (communicator) on site and a service. The device could be built in to the alarm (like Ring) or a separate communicator. You'll need paid service for the device/communicator.

I understand you don't believe in monitoring but you need some sort of service for the cellular option and a monitoring company provides that and can be instructed to call you, neighbours or family - your choice. Or they can call police or a guard service. Keep in mind police can be slow and won't respond to alarms in many areas now unless the alarm is verified.

All of this is provided as-is and shouldn't be construed as professional security advice. BTW we don't sell monitoring services so this is just free information for you to consider. I do however believe in pro monitoring (and pro installs) and this is my personal opinion.

Again, I hope it helps. I'll leave you to your search from here in unless you have any specific questions.

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post #10 of 31 (permalink) Old 2020-02-08, 09:00 PM Thread Starter
 
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Thank you very much, I appreciate your advice.

Alex
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post #11 of 31 (permalink) Old 2020-02-11, 08:59 PM Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aartech View Post
The pro systems like DSC don't normally "phone" since they were designed to be monitored. The exception here might be something like an Elk M1 Gold that has built in phone dialer with voice announcements and options for Internet Email. Or an add-on voice dialer where you can record a message.
Would please clarify the above statement, I see multiple systems from DSC that have the 'Report to User Telephone' option, unless it means something different from calling the number(s) you program in the system.

Thank you,
Alex
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post #12 of 31 (permalink) Old 2020-02-12, 11:02 AM
 
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Hi Alex,

The report to user option is pretty useless in practice as it just calls and beeps at you essentially so it's rarely used. That's why I said they "don't normally" phone. Instead people either tend to use an EVL4 Internet board, a communicator for monitoring, or a voice dialer add-on of some sort. But that's user preference ultimately.

The Elk M1 Gold and some others like Simon XT when they were around, could play a more meaningful message by voice.

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post #13 of 31 (permalink) Old 2020-02-13, 08:08 PM Thread Starter
 
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HI,

Thank you for your reply.

Considering that I want to keep the use of wireless to the minimum level, could a voice dialer AND an EVL4 Internet board work as primary and secondary communicators?
I would like to use the dialer as the main communicator to my cell phone and the EVL4 board just as the interface to check my system.
If you cut the internet fiber, the EVL4 becomes useless, however the dialer still works.

Has DSC dedicated dialers to be matched to any of their three PC panels or you can add any universal dialer?


Thank you,
Alex
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post #14 of 31 (permalink) Old 2020-02-13, 08:53 PM
 
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Who/what exactly are you using for Internet and is it an POTS phone or is it a bell or rogers home phone style?

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post #15 of 31 (permalink) Old 2020-02-13, 10:17 PM
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POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) is a traditional home phone system with copper wire back to the phone company.
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